TERRESTRIAL BIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
Hanneline Smit-Robinson met with Strilli Oppenheimer and Dr Duncan MacFadyen to update them on her programme’s work. Hanneline also met with Constant Hoogstad, EWT Wildlife and Energy Programme, and attended a Skype meeting with Prof. David Richardson, Centre for Invasion Biology, University of Stellenbosch. She further attended a Skype meeting with Mary-Ann Ottinger, University of Houston, Texas, regarding a One Health group to be established as part of the SESYNC Vulture meetings, of which the first will take place in October in the USA. Hanneline and Melissa Whitecross participated in a BirdLife South Africa Ethics Committee meeting. Melissa Whitecross and Raymond Rampolokeng represented BirdLife South Africa at a Sowetan Schools project, in which three Sowetan schools participated as part of the Flufftail Festival education programme. Sam Ralston is currently on leave.
Ingula Partnership/Northern Cape
Robin Colyn, with the assistance of Ingula Partnership Assistant, Sakhile Mthalane, conducted monthly avifaunal counts in the Zaaifontein survey block. Robin spent most of the week finalising Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat quality and fluctuation analyses for the Rudd’s Lark project. Analyses regarding drivers of habitat suitability also commenced this week. Data analyses on the White-winged Flufftail camera trap project commenced this week. Robin also commenced compiling a scientific draft of the respective project.
Birds and lead
Linda van den Heever travelled to the Raptor Rescue Centre near Pietermaritzburg where she removed liver samples from the carcasses of a number of raptors that died during rehabilitation. These samples will be tested for lead poisoning. We would like to thank Ben Hoffman and Tammy Caine for their assistance in this regard. She had a meeting with Sonja Kruger, Brent Coverdale and Ian Rushworth (Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife) to discuss data and sample sharing, as well as future collaboration in the lead project. Sonja Kruger and Brent Coverdale placed a number of bone samples at BirdLife South Africa’s disposal for lead testing. On Monday Linda put together a draft excursion programme for Flock on the West Coast 2018, and met with Gisela Ortner to discuss how best to handle the booking process.
SEABIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
Bronwyn Maree spent the week working on reports for the upcoming Project Steering Committee meeting in July, where the entire Common Oceans Project is discussed. She also filled in for Pete Watt-Pringle (on leave) and conducted a port visit to foreign vessels docked in the port to discuss their seabird bycatch mitigation measure use. Nini van der Merwe worked on the Seychelles workshop report that she, Andrea Angel and Ross Wanless attended last week, and is also planning the South African National Awareness workshop set to take place at the end of June.
Taryn Morris worked on data collation for the Island Closure experiment in preparation for the upcoming Small Pelagics Scientific Working Group meeting. She also met with Alison Cotton from Bristol Zoo to discuss synergies of potential research related to the new colony development.
Albatross Task Force
Andrea Angel assisted the Common Oceans team with planning for the upcoming National Awareness workshops in Mozambique and Brazil, as well as preparing the agenda for the workshop in Cape Town at the end of this month. The ATF team had a productive exchange with David Goad, a New Zealand-based fisheries and bycatch expert working on improving longline bird scaring lines (BSL) for small vessels. Reason Nyengera has been reviewing the outcomes of trials he conducted for the new BSL designs for demersal longliners, as well as trying to find a better way of tailoring the BSL to better suit our Demersal longline vessels. Bokamoso Lebepe met with Victor Ncgongo from Capricorn Marine to discuss fisheries observer data collected by him on his previous sea trip. He also spent time planning his upcoming sea trip. Bokamoso and Reason conducted a harbour visit and met with the skipper of the vessel that Reason will join next week to discuss the possibility of conducting bird-scaring line experiments on his vessel.
Ross Wanless spend lunchtimes at the University of Cape Town, conducting interviews with Peter Ryan and Dr Francis Marsac for a post-doctoral position (looking at seabirds, and identified a strong candidate for the position. He also assisted Nini and Bronwyn with various Common Oceans matters related to their respective areas of work. Finally he worked with Mark Anderson on a document to be sent to prospective funders for his position. Nini facilitated a visit from Chevaughn Nagiah, BirdLife South Africa's FLEDGE project and in-house social media guru to their office for two days. Nini, Chev and the rest of the seabird team spent some constructive time discussing goals and objectives for their social media campaign and general public communication. Chev also gave inputs to a discussion with David Frylinck, Ross and Nini, around the plans for the “Mouse-free Marion” (aka the Marion Mouse Eradication Project) fundraiser website.
IBA PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHTS
IBA PROGRAMME - NATIONAL
Similar to last week, Daniel Marnewick spent the week finalising the KBA Community Strategy, finishing his presentation on KBAs for the Biodiversity Planning Forum next week in the Kruger National Park, running IBAs through the pilot study assessment against the standards for “Other Effective Areas-based Conservation Measure” as per the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target 11, and a number of other IBA Programme administrative tasks.
IBA PROGRAMME - REGIONAL CONSERVATION
Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Free State
This week Ernst Retief received a Ford Ranger 3.2 XLT 4X4 Double Cab from the Ford Wildlife Foundation in support of his work in the eastern Free State. In support of this donation Ernst drafted a press release, which was distributed, and worked on other marketing initiatives. Ernst also received confirmation that their funding request to Ford for their Global Month of Caring was not only approved, but they received more than requested as Ford approved over R6 000. The funding will be used to paint the bird hide in the Moreletakloof Nature Reserve. Employees from Ford will do the painting. Ernst also worked on the report on Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures and attended a Skype meeting about this topic on Thursday. He worked on a number of articles to be published in African Birdlife magazine and E-newsletter and did another interview on RSG about avitourism in South Africa.
Dale Wright and Giselle Murison met with WWF-SA on Monday to discuss progress in the Western Cape Estuaries Project, after which Dale had a further meeting with WWF-SA to discuss funding proposal development for the Elizabeth Harding bequest. Dale and Giselle met again on Tuesday to complete the Western Cape Estuary Conservation Project mid-year review and discuss plans for the remainder of the year. Dale and Daniel Marnewick completed Dale’s skills audit on Thursday, followed by a meeting with Ernst Retief to discuss the BirdLife International pilot project reviewing “Other Effective Area-based Conservation Mechanisms” (OECMs). Time was also spent drafting funding proposals for a potential sabbatical later this year, and finalising the review of the BirdLife International OECM pilot project.
IBA PROGRAMME - PROJECTS
Biodiversity Stewardship Fiscal Benefits Project
Candice Stevens focused on the Fiscal Benefits Project pilot sites this week. The pilot sites are found all over the country in different IBAs and represent a wide variety of financial and operational situations, where different technical and practical tax requirements are being tested. Candice contacted the respective landowners at each site, as well as the biodiversity stewardship (BDS) extension officers facilitating the sites, in order to track the progress of various aspects of the sites, including: formal declarations, documentation, further engagement, detailing completed progress, and other variables. Part of this process also included detailed tax discussions with CapeNature representatives Marienne de Villiers and Alan Wheeler. Candice also completed another Quarterly Update newsletter, Issue 6, on the Fiscal Benefits Project. Issue 6 was sent to all Project stakeholders, funders, landowners, government and other interested parties. In addition to this work, Candice dealt with some policy related matters at Mark Anderson’s request and spent time detailing documents in this regard. Candice also dealt with travel arrangements and final preparations regarding two upcoming tax workshops to be held in Hoedspruit, Limpopo and Nieuwoudtville, Northern Cape. These tax workshops are provided to provincial government, NGOs and private stakeholders with the aim of mainstreaming access to our biodiversity tax incentives. Finally, Candice began work on the presentations and workshop material for these tax training days.
Verlorenvlei Protected Area Project
On Wednesday Samantha Schröder met with landowners to arrange for the signing of outstanding documents for the Moutonshoek Protected Environment. The remainder of the week was taken up with office admin including reviewing of documents as well as the Moutonshoek Protected Area Management Plan, contacting a landowner in Moutonshoek to set up a meeting, answering emails, filing and answering telephonic enquires from landowners in the Sandveld area.
Cape Estuaries Stewardship Project
This week, Giselle Murison and Dale Wright met with Western Cape Estuaries Conservation Project funders, WWF-SA to discuss project progress and the next steps with regard to delivering on the objectives of the Elizabeth Harding Bequest. Giselle finalised and submitted comments on the pre-application Basic Assessment Report for the proposed Kliphoek River Resort expansion at the Berg River Estuary. She spent time working on the evolving erosion control project for the Berg River Estuary, including initial conversations with DEA&DP and the Western Cape Department of Agriculture to confirm specific recommendations and some costings for a range of trial interventions at identified pilot sites. Giselle spent the rest of the week on a number of other administrative tasks, including completing her mid-year performance appraisal review, digitising habitat and land management information gathered during visits to farms at the Berg River Estuary, and dealing with emails and requests for information from partners, landowners and other interested parties at the estuarine project sites, while continuing to organise landowner visits at the Berg River and Klein River estuaries for June.
IBA PROGRAMME ADMIN
Romy Antrobus-Wuth spent time this week compiling the IBA Team’s highlights from the last month, for the upcoming Board of Director’s meeting. She also spent time reviewing and editing articles for the next issue of African Birdlife, compiling social media content and pulling together information to support the proposed extension of the Amatola-Katberg Mountain IBA boundary. Time was also spent on admin surrounding the Fast & Featherless charity bond for the 947 Cycle Challenge and working on the IBA Team’s social media strategy.
The Membership team moved out of their offices due to some building work that is taking place. Membership reports have been generated and are being emailed to the bird clubs together with the invoices for overdue members, and June payments have been captured. Shireen Gould and Elaine Cherrington met with Margie Roper about a Sandton Bird Club event at Isdell House. Bianca Hare will be on leave for the next two weeks.
AVITOURISM & SPECIAL PROJECTS PROGRAMME
Martin Taylor attended an East Atlantic Task Force meeting in Rochefort, France. A site visit was made to the LPO managed salt marshes on Isl de Res. Meetings were held in Cambridge with colleagues from BirdLife International regarding the submission of an African Union proposal to undertake monitoring of coastal wetlands in range states of the East Atlantic Flyway. Further meetings were held at Sandy, RSPB headquarters, to discuss the completed narrative and financial reports of BirdLife Zimbabwe and BirdLife South Africa as well as two European Union calls focusing on Transfrontier Conservation Areas in southern Africa as well as a Darwin scoping call which will cover Namibia and Angola. A brief update on the Gough Island project was obtained from Clare Stringer. Ian Owtram continued with the hosting of a bird guide training course for students of the ACSA training group. Trainees attended a presentation on LBJ identification by Rion Lerm hosted by the Phalaborwa Bird Club. An interim report was sent through to ACSA.
Chevaughn Nagiah visited the Seabirds office in Cape Town to assist the team with social media guidance, including for the new Marion Island fundraising website.
Fanie du Plessis attended the handover of a vehicle from the Ford Wildlife Foundation to colleague Ernst Retief. Fanie and Tanya Caldwell met with potential funders to discuss concepts for future collaboration.
The monthly Marketing Committee meeting was held on Wednesday, and a Skype meeting was held with the RSPB to discuss funding for the Policy & Advocacy Programme. Mark Anderson was on sick leave this week.